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The Delta Variant Could End the Chinese Communist Party

China's Xi Jinping at BRICS Summit
China's Xi Jinping at BRICS Summit. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

COVID-19 is ravaging China.

The Delta variant is spreading across the country fast, and Beijing has no answer to the new strain other than draconian, totalitarian brute-force measures—and blaming foreigners.

Millions of Chinese residents are now in various forms of lockdown. The recent infections constitute the most widespread coronavirus outbreak since the disease first hit China, sometime in late 2019.

The new flare-up, which quickly slipped beyond the control of the authorities, is undermining core Communist Party propaganda narratives.

Chinese authorities trace the latest series of infections to a flight landing at the Nanjing Lukou International Airport from Russia on July 20. Nine Chinese airport workers tested positive after cleaning the plane.

Since then, the disease has ripped through China, infecting people in almost half of the country’s 33 provinces and provincial-level cities and regions. “Delta has broken through the country’s virus defenses, which are some of the strictest in the world,” notes Bloomberg News.

Delta is now appearing in places with no reported cases for months. Of particular concern for the regime is the cluster in Wuhan, the original epicenter of the disease. The city’s infection-free status has been, as Bloomberg reports, “a source of pride in China.”

Covid has also reached Beijing, the heart of Chinese power. There, travel restrictions are strict. Tourists are now not admitted to the city. Only “essential travelers” are allowed in, but only if they produce negative Covid tests. Government and state enterprise employees may not leave the city. Beijing residents have been told not to travel elsewhere “unless necessary.”

There have been more than 30 outbreaks around China after the initial cases in Wuhan of last year, including a particularly devastating flare-up hitting Guangdong province ports beginning in late May. Draconian measures were seemingly successful in isolating China’s COVID-19 cases, however. The Party, beginning early last year, used its handling of the virus as proof of the superiority of its system over, among others, “Western democracy.”

Totalitarian-style tactics, unfortunately for China’s rulers, have not worked with the hardy Delta variant. The coronavirus, unlike other pathogens, has become more transmissible and more virulent over time. Delta, as a result, is now killing off the triumphalism of the Communist Party.

Therefore, a nationwide spread of the disease is a potentially existential threat to the Party. At the moment, Delta is running through many societies around the world, but China appears to be the only one where the variant could end the ruling group’s tenure.

Therefore, it should be no surprise that Party propagandists went berserk for a few days last month when Bloomberg named the U.S. No. 1 in the world in its “Covid Resilience Ranking.” “What a joke,” People’s Daily, the most authoritative publication in China, remarked.

Denigration of the U.S. cannot solve the Party’s main problem, however. None of China’s five coronavirus vaccines are particularly effective.

Beijing, claiming to have administered more than 1.5 billion doses of its vaccines in China, reports 40% of Chinese citizens are fully vaccinated. China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention says Chinese vaccines “can still have good preventative and protective effects” against the Delta strain, but that seems unlikely as countries turn their backs on the Chinese jabs if they have an alternative. Most of the new cases in Nanjing were vaccinated.

No society will fully recover from this disease until it has an effective and safe vaccine, and Beijing is a long way off from developing one of them, even though its researchers had months of head start in coming up with a good jab.

Until China can administer an effective vaccine across the country, its regime will have no choice but to fall back on propaganda. Narrative control has been key from the very beginning of the epidemic. This became clear when the Communist Party on January 26 of last year announced the formation of its Central Leading Small Group for Work to Counter the New Coronavirus Infection Pneumonia Epidemic, China’s task force. There was only one public health official on the nine-person roster, which was heavy with political hacks and propaganda officials. The Party’s propaganda czar, Wang Huning, was vice-chair. Maintaining control of the narrative and Xi Jinping’s dictatorial rule were—and remain—the Leading Group’s primary goals.

China 2022 Winter Olympics

A Chinese soldier guarding the southern entrance of the Forbidden City in Beijing, dominated by a giant portrait of Mao Zedong.

The Party’s propagandists evidently believe blaming foreigners for the Delta outbreak is good politics. They were quick to say the origin of the most recent contagion was passengers on the plane from Russia to Nanjing, for instance, implying Russia was the source. Media also attributes a cluster of cases in Zhengzhou to two hospital cleaners in contact with patients from abroad.

In the most irresponsible move of all, China’s foreign ministry in March of last year publicly maintained that the global coronavirus pandemic started in the United States. Since then, Chinese propagandists have continually pushed the notion that the coronavirus was hatched in Frederick, Maryland, in the U.S. Army’s Fort Detrick.

China’s rulers have run out of options when it comes to the uncontrolled—and perhaps uncontrollable—spread of the newest variant of COVID-19.

Is their fate now in the hands of a virus named “Delta”?

Gordon G. Chang is the author of The Coming Collapse of China and The Great U.S.-China Tech War. Follow him on Twitter @GordonGChang. He is also a 1945 Contributing Editor. 

Written By

Gordon G. Chang is the author of The Great U.S.-China Tech War and Losing South Korea, booklets released by Encounter Books. His previous books are Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On the World and The Coming Collapse of China, both from Random House. Chang lived and worked in China and Hong Kong for almost two decades, most recently in Shanghai, as Counsel to the American law firm Paul Weiss and earlier in Hong Kong as Partner in the international law firm Baker & McKenzie.



  1. The Dark Lord

    August 3, 2021 at 9:06 am

    “Totalitarian-style tactics, unfortunately for China’s rulers, have not worked with the hardy Delta variant. The coronavirus, unlike other pathogens, has become more transmissible and more virulent over time.” thats just plain nonsense … everywhere else Delta has been studied thats just not true … Slightly more infectious and much LESS virulent …

  2. Jim A.

    August 3, 2021 at 9:58 am

    What fantastic irony if COVID results in the fall of the CCP. Not likely – but a great story.

  3. John Pinckney

    August 3, 2021 at 10:38 am

    We don’t they just let the virus run its course and let the chips fall where they may? The virus is not deadly, also use ivermectin as a prophylactic and therapeutic. Very strange.

  4. twm

    August 3, 2021 at 10:55 am

    “The coronavirus, unlike other pathogens, has become more transmissible and more virulent over time.”

    Is this true?

    The delta variant appears less lethal than the original strain out of Wuhan. And, it’s quite common for a virus to evolve to become more transmissible over time.

  5. Kenneth

    August 3, 2021 at 11:09 am

    While I hope that the communist regime in China self destructs, this article contains more wishful emoting than convincing analysis.

  6. Louis McFadden

    August 3, 2021 at 11:10 am

    What a ridiculously dumb article…seriously it has been 2 years and more than the majoriyof people world wide are healthy

    This is fear porn and idiotic but has now become the norm but those who want to be considered by people like Soros

  7. Jimmy John Doe

    August 3, 2021 at 11:11 am

    Actually, the US was the one that ended china back in the year 1962.

    The china of today is just a smoke and mirrors manifestation of the peoples’ republic had 1962 never come by.

    Google ‘The Okinawa Missiles of October’ for the cause leading to the collapse and end of china.

  8. Vandervecken

    August 3, 2021 at 12:22 pm

    It might change things if the Communist Party in China had not shown a ruthless willingness to slaughter any number of their own people necessary to maintain complete control. They will kill or imprison whoever they need to in order for that not to change. Remember their Government is the biggest mass Murderer in Human History. By far and within living memory.

  9. Phil

    August 3, 2021 at 4:13 pm

    Totally wishful thinking with a headline to match. The Communist party will simply crackdown on any any protest- we’ve seen this in the past and there is no way Covid is going to be the impetus for a regime change. It is going to make more people sick, but the mortality rate isn’t high and we will all be living with this going forward like the annual flu.

  10. John M Asquith

    August 3, 2021 at 4:50 pm

    This frightening, not that the world would lose a dictatorship, but because regimes who are losing their grip often do reckless things on the international stage to appease their opposition at home.

  11. Bill

    August 3, 2021 at 10:25 pm

    Karma is relentless.

    What are the odds the Wuhan virus will disrupt the Winter Games?

  12. ven ze

    August 3, 2021 at 11:16 pm

    In the final analysis, this Delta variant would finish off the blind and obstinate supporters of the west first before it starts to harm any political system in the east.
    Be reminded..

  13. Michael E Lewis

    August 4, 2021 at 12:47 am

    How do they even know it’s the “delta” variant? There is no test that confirms it, no way to know so why even say it is? It’s stupid

  14. m sam

    August 4, 2021 at 3:27 pm

    It’s funny who some people, when their civilization is being wracked by crises (COVID and Global Warming are two immediate examples), the only thing they can do is to remain obsessed with the downfall of a different civilization.

    Our house is on fire and all you can do is dream about torching the neighbors, huh? It’s easy to suspect such a disease of thinking is only hindering, rather than helping, the struggle against our “actual existing” problems. The whole thing reminds me of the whole “UFO Report” that sucked up so much air in the first half of the year: we won’t know the truth of the Pentagon’s claims until they show up with the bill.

  15. Frank Fan

    August 8, 2021 at 7:40 am

    Haha A China hater, Gordon, you predicted end of China 20 years ago, now with a Delts variant will end of CCP? It’s more like end of your prediction on China, period! 20 years had passed not only China hasn’t ended but grew stronger. Haha… I suggest the end of your prediction as you constantly pretend to know china, but only proves to be a nothing-writer about China using your emotion to predict China’s future! :))

  16. Jason Magnuson

    August 10, 2021 at 8:34 am

    Flat out lie: “No society will fully recover from this disease until it has an effective and safe vaccine, and Beijing is a long way off from developing one of them, even though its researchers had months of head start in coming up with a good jab.”

  17. Patrick Rodgers, Ph.D

    August 17, 2021 at 10:15 am

    The Universal Law of Karma can be a real bitch depending on what the pay back is. One day the truth about China may come out and people will learn that the spread of the Wuhan Virus was not an accident, but was intentionally released on the World to damage the American economy and help defeat Donald Trump. If the United States had a set of male body parts, they would publicly accuse China of an Act of War and initiate the most strict sanctions possible. Instead, the mealy mouth political hacks in Washington D.C. just stumble and bumble their way, as the Virus continues to eat us alive. We need to get rid of Joe Biden and return our legitimate President, Donald Trump to power, before the country is completely destroyed. Wake up fellow Americans, the clock is ticking.

  18. Jeff Whittaker

    August 23, 2021 at 8:34 am

    As of today, there is no COVID case in China local transmission. To be honest I am very disappointed that Delta didn’t kill the CCP. even the best country New Zealand is having issue with delta today, my home country was so good for so long but now delta had finished us. It’s so unfair that China can beat delta, when the regime is arguably the worst in the world.
    How can the CCP protect its people, only a few thousand die and didn’t lock down much, while the best country in the world USA is suffering from 600k death and had to surrender to the Taliban. How have this world come to this place?

  19. Jeff Whittaker

    August 24, 2021 at 6:53 am

    Dear Gordon, why did you remove my comment, is it because China actually beat delta and as always you are wrong?

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